Scientific Foundations

In nature, there are insects that feed on crops. Humans consider these insects to be pests. There are also other insects and diseases that naturally kill those insect pests. Biological pest control uses these natural killers to target the pests that are damaging crops.

Predators, parasitoids, and pathogens are considered the natural enemies of crop pests. Predators are insects, such as ladybugs or spiders, which kill specific types of insects. These predators can be used to control insect populations.

Pathogens are bacteria, viruses, or fungi (plant-like organisms that cannot make their own food and must feed off other organisms) that cause disease in pests. For example, Pandora neoaphidis is a type of fungus that infects insects called aphids.

What Ladybugs Eat Plants
Ladybug and ant on apple leaf. The tiny insects around them are aphids. Both ladybugs and ants eat aphids, which helps farmers because aphids damage crops. Nigel Cattlin/Photo Researchers, Inc.

Parasitoids are insects that lay their eggs in other insects. They then kill their host and use its dead body as a cocoon (a case that protects the insect's young) or for food.

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